The Complex Families of Filipina Immigrant Nurses and Garment Workers in Manitoba in the Sixties

  • Jeden O. Tolentino


This paper adds to the critique of the thesis that the nuclear family was normative in Western society by describing the “complex” families that Filipina nurses and garment workers built when they immigrated to Manitoba in the 1960s. Upon their arrival in Manitoba, these Filipinas formed substitute sibling families that served as natural support systems. Then, after having settled in the province, they took on parental roles toward the kin they had left behind in the Philippines as well as fellow Filipinos who had immigrated to Canada after them. Finally, they sponsored close relatives to join them in Manitoba when Canadian immigration policy became more open. However, the socio-economic stratification within the Filipino community in Manitoba during its first decade in the province affected the ways nurses (among other professionals) and garment workers (among other working-class individuals) respectively built these “complex” families from different perspectives and with different approaches.